Modesto

Local health facilities bring awareness to prostate cancer

Sharon Likely, RN (left) and Janine Hawkins, RN, during the Prostate Health Awareness information event and Elvis the Pelvis at the Kaiser Permanente Modesto Medical Center on Sept. 16.
Sharon Likely, RN (left) and Janine Hawkins, RN, during the Prostate Health Awareness information event and Elvis the Pelvis at the Kaiser Permanente Modesto Medical Center on Sept. 16. Special to Vida en el Valle

To raise awareness on prostate cancer during the National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Kaiser Permanente facilities in San Joaquin and Stanislaus county hosted ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ — an inflatable walk-through pelvis to provide a visual representation of the progression of prostate cancer with easy-to-understand explanations.

Prostate Cancer Awareness takes place during the month of September and is the most common type of cancer among men in the US, other than skin cancer and is the third most diagnosed cancer in the Central Valley and affects one in seven men nationwide.

The Prostate Health Awareness information events — and Elvis the Pelvis — were displayed at the three Kaiser Permanente facilities - Modesto Medical Center, Main Rotunda (Sept. 16); Manteca Medical Center, Farmers Market Patio (Sept. 17) and Stockton Medical Offices, Heroes Hallway (Sept. 18) with an accompanying information table staffed by friendly and knowledgeable KP employees.

The awareness campaigns run all month long in September at KP medical offices buildings however, the ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ was only on those specific dates at the Modesto, Manteca and Stockton locations.

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The Prostate Health Awareness information events — and Elvis the Pelvis — were displayed at the three Kaiser Permanente facilities - Modesto Medical Center, Main Rotunda (Sept. 16); Manteca Medical Center, Farmers Market Patio (Sept. 17) and Stockton Medical Offices, Heroes Hallway (Sept. 18) with an accompanying information table staffed by friendly and knowledgeable KP employees. Kaiser Permanente Northern California Special to Vida en el Valle

One of the goals of the campaign is to provide knowledge to empower and arm the communities to get screened for prostate cancer early on before it’s too late.

Dr. John W. Weedin, Urologist in Kaiser Permanente’s Manteca office provided additional insights as to how this disease affects Latinos men in the Valley, as well what could be done to increase awareness, break the disparities and the taboo of this illness in the Latino Community.

“As health care professionals, we are responsible for providing the Latino community prostate cancer information in a way that promotes positive screening experiences and awareness. The “Elvis the Pelvis” event is a means to that end,” said Weedin.

To increase awareness with Latinos, Weedin said free health screenings including prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in Latino neighborhoods can be used as a tool. The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in people’s blood.

PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, a small gland that sits below the bladder in men, he said.

Weedin said it is important to emphasize that prostate cancer screening no longer involves digital rectal exam.

“Only PSA is now required. Both primary providers, health care workers and patients still believe this,” Weedin said. “Digital rectal exam was abandoned because it deterred both primary providers and patients, particularly minorities.”

Also Weedin said that is important to emphasize that prostate cancer is a very treatable disease early on.

“Definitive therapies have improved significantly over the last 10 years and systemic therapies have too,” Weedin said.

When asked how can doctors and health advocates can break the disparities in this population, Weedin said “this is a complex question driven by numerous societal factors e.g., language, cultural barriers and gaps in healthcare access.

“Access to early detection and high-quality treatment options are key to reducing disparities in mortality differences by race,” he said.

To break the disparities access to health care is crucial.

“A lot of patients who present with incurable disease, do not have this access. This also includes cost of health care,” he said, adding that language is important to consider.

“Health care providers need to be more fluent in Spanish including myself. My Spanish communication is elementary but even showing an interest in speaking and learning the language builds trust,” Weedin said. When it comes to cultural barriers, Weedin said “family is important and primary prevention of many diseases including prostate cancer are typically emphasized by the family.”

Weedin said it is important to emphasize that often men diagnosed with prostate cancer have no symptoms, therefore screening is necessary.

He said healthcare professionals can use Latino cultural values, particularly the importance of family, to counteract cultural taboos regarding prostate cancer screening.

“A 2014 study of the communication between Latino men with familial risks noted that family members diagnosed with prostate cancer can be open a window to increasing awareness of the need for screening and promote informed decision making,” he said.

“Prevention of cancer is a tough sell to many people particular men without symptoms,” Weedin said. “Many are scared of being diagnosed with the disease and the side effects of treatment. I try to emphasize that only about 20 percent of men die of prostate cancer and these men are typically not detected at earlier stages.”

Weedin said most of the side effects of definitive therapy are treatable and the quality of life of men after treatment is very good.

“With the advent of active surveillance in the last 15 years, urologist have become better at determining which patients truly need this definitive therapy and who can be observed,” Weedin said, adding that emphasis of the ‘UsToo’ group is great.

“I don’t know if a specific Latino prostate cancer support group or general cancer support groups are available,” Weedin said. “The few times I have attended the UsToo group, Latino attendance is poor.”

“Since 2011, I have been fighting an uphill battle - as have other Urologists around the world - about the need for prostate cancer screening in all ethnicities and cultures,” Weedin said. “With the revised US Services and Preventative Task Force recommendations of PSA back to a grade B-C in 2017, we have seen improvements.”

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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